The Experimental Facilities in the Riedel Mine
As Seen in a German Army Photo Album
The ammunition works set up in the Riedel mine in Hänigsen near Hanover in 1936 as an experimental facility became a model for the 25 potassium mines in Germany which were requisitioned by the army before the outbreak of the Second World War and turned into ammunition stores. The Hildesheim army construction authorities invested a total of 10.4 million Reichsmark in the Riedel mine between 1936 and 1939 on the orders of Supreme Army Command. After one-and-a-half years of detonation tests in which every conceivable form of accident was simulated, the facility consisted not only of a gigantic ring system of 29 ammunition chambers stretching over an area of 1.2 km² at a depth of 650 m below ground, the architect Castell had also redesigned the entire premises dating from 1908 while retaining the charm of the old building.
The Hildesheim army construction authorities were so proud of their new facilities that they made a photo album with 158 photos just before start of ammunition production on 1 June 1938. This unique document is today in the possession of the local museum of the Heimatbund von Hänigsen.
The history of the army ammunition works in the mine has remained a more or less unwritten story to date. Since the mines were requisitioned by the army, the subsequent mining companies did not feel responsible for this part of their history. The potassium companies had to work for the army long before the outbreak of war constructing the ammunition stores. While the works were in operation, a continuous presence of miners was necessary. Mining authorities and senior mining authorities remained the supervisory authorities responsible.